In years past our family has stayed away from themed costumes, but this year a "Haunted" theme fell into place. Our oldest daughter (13 years old) thought it would be super cool to be a haunted tree that could move around and surprise people. When we went to her one of her younger brother's school carnival, she decided that she would stand close to the entryway and roll up behind unsuspecting visitors.
The owl idea for her head worked perfect because the proportion was fairly close, so it was believable. She even had someone come up and poke her in the eye to see if she was real, which she was not thrilled about. The tree moved wonderfully on pavement but was cumbersome on curbs and steps, due to the ridged materials used to construct the tree.
To her dismay, Trick or Treating took twice as long with rolling around and requests for photos, so our candy collection was a bit compromised.
She and I started her costume by forming chicken wire into a trunk and limbs that we put together with wire. Then we wired it to the rafters in our garage and got started on the paper mache process. We did not initially build any internal framework, thinking hanging it from the ceiling would allow it to dry in a strong upright shape.
After taking it down and attaching it to the wood base with rollers that we made we noticed that it shrank as we were attaching it. I would recommend building the trunk initially with a light weight vertical wood form so that you don't have to build it in like we did.
After it was dry, she climbed inside and started snipping all the wire to hollow out the form so she could fit in it. It being her costume, it was decided she was the best person to get in there and snap away the pesky wire. We used a hand held saw to cut in the head and arm holes. We took folded up brown craft paper (same paper as exterior) and glued in sharp areas for internal padding. Foam pieces around her face and under arms were a must as well.
We used 3 different kinds of brown spray paint and made shadows and the look of more depth. Then we added some fake leaves and vine to give it a more realistic look. We reused an old bat decoration by adding foam, black tulle, wire and black spray paint hinged it with screws and nuts to use hide her arm. On her other arm she wore a formed branch that we made out scrap chicken wire and paper mache. We held it to her upper arm with a hot glued elastic band.
The Owl Head was constructed with an old knit hat, a masquerade mask and a cut piece of sheet foam that I formed to her head. We did a lot of this while it was on her face to get the right look. I downloaded several pictures of great horned owls that I used to help me place the feathers.
I stuffed the hat with a bag of left over fiberfill and hot glued the feathers from front to back. I then made a set of tail feathers and wings to clip to her pony tail, since you could see the back of her head from the rear of the costume.
She fit right in to our Haunted Group with her brothers being; a Haunted House, a Haunted Graveyard and a Haunted Mummy. We downloaded spooky sounds to her IPod and the group "haunted" the streets of our neighborhood.
Please see YouTube video for a better look at our Coolest Homemade Haunted Tree.
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